Here we go again. Remember that silly “Sovereign Nations” conference? An obscure organization — actually little more than a single crank with money — invites a couple of dubious atheist celebrities to a weekend in London to give a couple of talks. Sure, that’s a conference all right, by definition, and that’s how many currently respected atheist conferences had their beginning, but it’s not much of an effort to communicate and share ideas. What made it weird is that some people treated it as a distinctive mark of honor that conferred instant credibility on a particular narrow point of view. It didn’t help that Richard Dawkins praised it (at first…when he learned that organizer was a strange religious conservative, he back-pedaled.)
It’s happening again. In this case, two people I never heard of announced an atheist conference in England and immediately got an endorsement from Richard Dawkins. It’s called the Anti-Theism International Convention. They got some respectable people, like Maryam Namazie and Stephen Law and Aron Ra, and then…Lawrence Krauss. A gaggle of YouTubers better known for their opposition to transgender issues and support for Rationality Rules. Lurking in their unused video promos is Richard Carrier. I think I can already detect a bias here — this is just another reaction to #MeToo, trying to whitewash misogyny.
One of the organizers is someone named John Richards, the publications director for Atheist Alliance International. You know, the organization that recently hired David Silverman. By this time, the whole thing is reeking of sliminess.
But OK, they have the right to organize a conference, and I’m not going to oppose it. Please do go buy a ticket for £199 if this is the kind of thing that floats your boat. I’ll just mention that you’re being bamboozled. This is an impromptu money grab by a small group in a pretend organization that didn’t exist until this past July, when they created a Facebook page, a Facebook page that is practically empty of content and has no commenters. It’s an empty shell of an organization that seems to have been a spontaneous brain fart by a pair of obscure nobodies.
Again, that’s fine. That’s how big events get started, and they all have to get started somewhere. I’ll just point out that this one contains a heck of a lot of ridiculous claims.
One of their big things is a gala awards banquet, in which they’ll be handing out awards for “Atheist of the Year” and “Jesus Mythicist of the Year” and “Best Atheist Video of the Year”, etc. You can make nominations, if you’d like, but a panel of unnamed judges will make the final decision, and I suspect that all the winners will conform to the organizer’s somewhat regressive political leanings. Furthermore, the hyperbole will turn your stomach.
You’ve heard of the Oscars, Emmys and Baftas?
This is the Attys! (the Anti-Theism International Awards)
Yes, I’ve heard of the Oscars, Emmys and Baftas. The “Attys” are not exactly of the same rank. It gets worse.
The Atty Awards are probably the most prestigious Awards in the Atheist Community and winning a Atty Award will not only get you recognition within the Atheist Community, it will give you a chance to enjoy giving worldwide speaking engagements as well as Keynote presentations at many events around the world. The Awards will be presented by some of the most famous atheist on the planet and the winners will be invited to the VIP area of the after awards ceremony for photo opportunites and press talks.
These “Atty Awards” have not been given out before, are a new invention of this oddly new and nebulous organization, and they are already the most prestigious award an atheist can get? Wow. Winning one will get you worldwide speaking engagements? Really? I sure hope none of the winners proudly advertise themselves as recipients of an Atty Award, because it’s not going to impress. I think all it means is that John Richards likes you this year, and that and $3 will get you a cup of coffee from the Caribou stand in the supermarket in Morris, Minnesota.
OK, I’ll sweeten the deal. I’m giving out the Morris Award for the Most Lost Atheist of 2020 to the first godless person to hit me up at the Willies Supervalu. I’ll even pay for the cup of coffee. Keep the cup, because I’m sure it will get you prestigious invitations to worldwide speaking engagements.